Sen. Gardner: Kim Jong Un feeling the pressure from Trump

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 9, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

TRISH REGAN, GUEST HOST: So, did Kim Jong-un just blink? It certainly took a show of strength, right, to get us to this point. Is that what it's going to take to actually strike a deal?

Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He's also been involved in talks with the White House on North Korea.

My goodness, this is a huge development, a historic development, wouldn't you say? Because no sitting U.S. president has ever sat down with the North Koreans like this.

SEN. CORY GARDNER, R-COLORADO: Well, this is a big development.

And because of that fact that you just mentioned, it is a very high-stakes opportunity. We are in this position because President Trump rightfully abandoned strategic patience, the failed doctrine of the previous administration, and has moved toward a doctrine of maximum pressure.

That pressure, Kim Jong-un is feeling it very much, which is why we are having this opportunity to talk today.

REGAN: So, pressure in various forms. We can talk about the economic pressure, which I think was extremely successful, but there was also just sort of the public persona pressure, calling him little rocket man and things like that.

How much did that, in your view, contribute maybe to Kim Jong-un really wanting this meeting?

GARDNER: Well, under the previous doctrine of strategic patience, if it was, if you act bad enough for long enough, you get what you want.

Under maximum press, it's economic, it's diplomatic, it's publicly naming and shaming Kim Jong-un...


GARDNER: For the heinous acts that he's created.

The guy killed his step-brother with chemical weapons. And we have made -- we have sanctioned him as a result of that. And so we have taken a number of steps that have made it very clear that we are not going to be satisfied by just letting him continue to hold the world hostage to his nuclear program.

But what we also have to do is to continue that pressure, work with Japan, South Korea, and our relationship and that an alliance to make sure that we continue pressure to actually get to denuclearization.

REGAN: So, one of the reasons he likes having these weapons, Senator, is because it gives him power, it gives him stature, it gives him a place, so to speak, on the world stage. The minute he loses those weapons, does he lose his ability to govern North Korea?

If you look at, say, the Libya example, it wouldn't be very encouraging to someone to Kim Jong-un.

GARDNER: Well, I hope the people of North Korea, 200,000 of whom are in political gulags, will realize that he is providing money for a weapons plan while depriving the people of economic opportunity and food.

What Kim Jong-un has to realize is also that we are not interested in occupying North Korea. Admiral Harry Harris, our commander at Pacific Command, has said it best. Before Congress, he said, we are not interested in bringing Kim Jong-un to his knees. We are interested in bringing him to his senses.

And I hope that we can see concrete, verifiable steps towards denuclearization before this meeting. If we don't, this meeting, quite frankly, shouldn't occur. But I commend the president for maximum pressure for the work that has gotten us this far.

REGAN: It's an amazing development really. Potentially, he has the ability here to go down in history as someone who may have really saved a lot of people, if this is successful, if we can actually get these weapons away from Kim Jong-un.

So, in terms of the negotiating here, what do you think the next steps are?

GARDNER: Well, that's a big if, because we have been here, we have seen this before.

In 1994, agreements, promises were made by North Korea. They were broken. In 2005, promises were made by North Korea. North Korea broke those promises.

And so we have to take this with a healthy dose of skepticism. But we cannot miss this opportunity to continue to double down on the pressure, engage China in the way that they have not engaged before, and make sure that we turn the focus to getting those concrete steps in place, living up to the promises of the past for denuclearization.

And if we do that, that is indeed historic. Look, we have a defense obligation with Japan and South Korea. We have hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens in both nations. And for this to actually result in denuclearization is a step away from what could be the brink of catastrophe.

REGAN: Indeed. Well, it's encouraging. We will see where we go from here.


REGAN: Senator Gardner, thank you very much.

GARDNER: Thank you. Thank you.


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